Moo.la’s Gemma Godfrey on how she made it: “It’s action that makes the difference”

 
Isabelle Werffeli
A woman and two men hold a giant plastic model of a mobile phone
Godfrey says her Ted talk was the turning point in her career (Source: Flickr/Northern Ireland Executive)

Gemma Godfrey is the founder of Moo.la, a digital investment service, as well as a quantum physicist, a new mum - and in December she was chosen to appear on Celebrity Apprentice US alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You have a pretty broad range of skills and experience. How did you know what the right direction was for your career?

I’ve always focused my career on doing something I’m passionate about because then you’re motivated to work hard at it - even though my skills are quite varied they all work well together.

Quantum physics and investment strategy doesn’t feel like a natural pairing. How did you make that connection?

There are these misconceptions that if you do the sciences then you have to end up being a scientist. We don’t have this wider recognition yet that science and maths are just problem solving. What part of a business doesn’t benefit from a problem solver? It’s so good for people to come into finance from a quantum background. You look at it from a different angle and you can challenge all these preconceptions.

What made you work so hard?

My parents instilled the belief in me that if I worked hard, I could achieve anything. I’ve always chosen opportunities that aren’t restricted and aren’t bureaucratic. Working in areas where you can progress quickly is very motivating. The tech sector opens up lots of opportunities for success.

You’ve talked about millennials a few times. Do you think their expectations are too high?

This goes back to the famous quote “it takes 10 years to be an overnight success”. Entrepreneurs work 100-hour weeks – they don’t have to work 45 hours for someone else. You work harder, longer hours [if you work for yourself] - although if you have a purpose in what you’re doing you’re going to be much more motivated. It all has a reason. The new trend is that people want to work for purpose-driven companies and that is a really important trend.

Was there a significant turning point in your career?

I am quite proud of my Ted Talk. I was honoured to be asked. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done. It was a turning point just because it was my lightbulb moment to work out how to help create an impact in the world. I think it set me on my path to starting my company.

What’s the one thing women can do to push female empowerment and gender equality in the workplace?

There’s a lot of talk but it’s action that makes the difference. The more women who push through and climb the ladder, the more role models, mentors and sponsors we’ll have.

What advice do you give to wannabe entrepreneurs?

Three things: focus on solving a problem rather than selling a product. Validate the need - before you do anything with your amazing idea you have to go out there and test it. Finally, it’s all about your team: No single person has all the skills needed. This means identifying your strengths and weaknesses in order to get the right people on board

You can be in a room full of people who have lived on this earth longer and actually the amount of experience you have is the same.

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